Two years after the events of Saints and Misfits, Janna Yusuf’s story continues in S.K. Ali’s companion novel, Misfit in Love. While Misfit in Love can be read as a standalone book, Saints and Misfits provides more background for the events that take place in this new work.
Misfit in Love centers Janna Yusuf’s foray into the world of romance with her brother’s wedding as the backdrop. What starts off as a small nikkah for Muhammad and Sarah turns into a huge multicultural Muslim wedding. With love in the air, Janna hopes that it can be her opportunity to reunite with Nuah and tell him how she feels. However, as new characters are introduced and misunderstandings ensue, things don’t go quite according to plan. Nuah starts treating her differently, Janna’s mom considers her own romantic past after running into an old friend, and Sarah enlists Janna’s help in redirecting Muhammad’s… interesting stylistic tastes for the wedding. And in the midst of it all, Janna struggles to understand what she wants for herself.
Like its predecessor, Misfit in Love is a largely character-driven novel. The character development, especially for the protagonist Janna, shows her incredible maturation and growth since the first book. While the book is romantically focused, Misfit in Love is about love in general. Janna finds her interpretation of family challenged once again as her relationships with those around her continue to change. The relationships in the book—between friends, family, love interests—are well-developed, embracing uncertainty and complexity in a way that feels raw and real.
The cast of central and supporting characters, both new and old, were wonderful to read. While the book can be read as a standalone, reading Misfit in Love after Saints and Misfits provides a more satisfying reading experience. Recognizing characters or plotlines from the previous work and how they have shifted in Misfit in Love reveals how well the book serves as a companion novel.
As per usual from S.K. Ali’s books, the Muslim representation is authentic at its heart. The characters in the predominately Muslim cast are realistically flawed, and Ali does not shy away from addressing issues within the Muslim community. However, the casual incorporation of the lifestyle of a practicing Muslim—wudhu, prayers, halal (or religiously permissible) guidelines for getting to know potential love interests, hijabi fashion—these details were so holistically developed and naturally integrated into the story. The writing itself flowed well, drawing readers in and keeping them invested until the last page.
Misfit in Love is a heartwarming summer read. If you are looking for a lighthearted story, wholesome and authentic Muslim representation, or a book to draw you out of a reading slump, then consider picking up Misfit in Love.
Misfit in Love by S.K. Ali was published on May 25, 2021.